Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Winning the Birthday Party Game

Remember a few months ago, when I posted about the absolute travesty that was Reagan's birthday party?

Ok, FINE, Reagan's party wasn't a travesty. She had fun and won't even remember it. But I suffered enough humiliation to last a good four or five lifetimes, so that's how I'll be remembering it.

Now it's time for to start prepping for Madison's birthday party.

Madison is now old enough to give some solid opinions on what she'd like for her party, so a few weeks ago I started asking her. She wants her favorite princesses involved (Belle AND Elsa, so that should be an interesting fusion) and she wants purple. Great.

Then I started making some suggestions about where she could have her party.

We typically don't do parties at home. EVERY single year it has thunderstormed on Madison's birthday, and after the first sweaty, humid year of having everyone damp and indoors, we decided to outsource. That means that I don't have to stress over cleaning before OR after the party, there is plenty of parking, and no one gets soaked.

Me: Where should we have your birthday party? Gymnastics? BounceU?

Madison: I want a party at the same place Reagan had hers!

Me: (omigod, no, no, no, no, I can never show my face there again). Um, that's an idea. But wouldn't you like a place that is even MORE special?

Good job, mom, tell her we chose a totally unspecial place for her sister.

Madison: NO! I want a party just like Reagan's!!

Great. I went back and forth on this. On the one hand, that place was fairly inexpensive, definitely easy, and the kids had a great time. On the other hand, I threw up all over their floor. And my guess is that the party hosts will remember the barfing mom.

Yeah, we can't have it there.

Over the next few weeks I started pointing out every single cool place I could think of, talking about HOW AWESOME it would be to have a party there. Madison would respond to all with "yeah, that would be fun. But I'm having my party where Reagan did". This was going to be a tough sell.

But finally, finally, I got her to bend. She wanted a party at her gymnastics place. Yay!

Except that, in my focus on getting this party anywhere but the scene of my crime, I hadn't really looked into the details of any of the alternatives I was pushing. Turns out that Madison's gymnastics place does indeed host a wonderful birthday party - for a max of 8 kids.

We have more than 8 kids. A lot more than 8 kids. Madison absolutely adored her preschool class and has been talking about them coming to her birthday party, since she's been to most of theirs. Then there are the girls from dance class, who she also loves. And the kids from our art group, who all come with sibling sets. This adds up to a number that is much, much, bigger than 8. Nope. Fail.

Yes, I know I can always tell her that she has to pick her 8 and that's it. But if you count Madison, Reagan and her cousin that's three spots right there. And although when she's older she may settle into a few "best friends", right now, she is so friendly and talks endlessly about so many friends that I'd rather let her enjoy a big party.

So I told Madison that the gym wasn't available, and she happily went back to wanting her original choice.


I started getting obsessed.

The trampoline place? Expensive, impractical for the age, and too far away.

A cooking party at a grocery store? Great idea, but only 10 kids are included in the price. Every additional kid is an additional $20. Not happening.

A party at the pool? No flat fee, just an entrance fee for every kid. So that might work....but there's the thunderstorm curse. And the fact that we also would also be charged for every PARENT who attended - and the adult charge is double the kid charge. And I'm certainly not asking multiple children under the age of five to attend a pool party without parental supervision.

Now her birthday is less than a month away! And I haven't even picked a place! Madison is going around inviting every friend she encounters (although not Elsa - thank God) and we don't even have a date.

And all because of my humiliation.

Worst. Mother. Ever.

By the end of last week I was about to just give up, call the stupid jungle gym place, lie about our name, and start working on a disguise.

Then, while cleaning out my purse, I found a coupon that was going to expire. A coupon for open play at another one of those indoor run around party places. That we got because Madison went to a birthday party there. Hmmmm....

Me: Hey Madison, remember where _____ had her party?  Before swimming, do you want to go play there today?

Madison: Ok.

Yay!!! They get to run themselves ragged and while Madison is on a high from all the fun I can check out their party situation and get her to agree!

And I am proud to say that my final hour, sneaky plan worked. The girls had a great time playing and two of Madison's friends from preschool happened to be there, so she had an even better time. They can take up to TWENTY FIVE kids (although we don't have that many) and they had an opening within a week of her actual birthday. The owner, who was probably the sweetest person I'd ever met, chatted with Madison and listened to her "I want a party with Belle and Elsa" idea and promised to play music and games that incorporated those two favorites.

And I don't have to return to the scene of the crime.

That's what I call a birthday WIN!

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